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The Most Fascinating Lawyers (and Stories) of 2011

Vivia Chen

December 20, 2011

© Scott Maxwell - Fotolia.comAlways aspiring to be The People magazine of the legal set, The Careerist is shining the spotlight on the lawyers and institutions that made 2011 intriguing and fun. In no particular order, here are the winners of the first-annual-but-already-coveted Careerist's awards:

"You Can't Judge a Book by Its Cover" Winner: Alisha Smith, the respected securities lawyer at the New York attorney general's office who moonlighted as a dominatrix.

"Foot in Mouth" Winner: Paul Mirengoff, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld partner who made snarky comments about Native American prayers on his blog, apparently forgetting that his firm has American Indian tribes as clients. Oops!

"Tell the Sisters the Way It Is" Winner: Loretta Preska, federal judge who presided over the discrimination trial against Bloomberg L.P. (the media company won). She wrote in her opinion that work/life balance is a personal matter--not a corporate obligation--and certainly not something that should be mandated by law.

"We Are Too Good to Look Good" Winner: Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, the incredibly profitable litigation boutique where lawyers are actually encouraged to wear flip flops to work.

"Mad Men" Winner: Ira Schacter, fiftyish Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft partner who lived up to the middle-aged male stereotype by giving his 20-something girlfriend a $215,000 engagement ring (it didn't help that he refused to pay for his daughter's hearing aid--a fact his ex-wife gleefully exploited).

"I Don't Know How She Did It" Winner: Jaclyn Cohen, partner at Weil, Gotshal & Manges, who quit law to run a knitting shop for two years but somehow managed to get back in the game.

"Truth in Advertising" Winner: Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe for proudly launching its no-frills West Virginia summer associate program in Wheeling, where the firm's summer outing revolves around bowling.

"Let's Torture Law Students While the Job Market Sucks" Winner: Pepper Hamilton, which puts recruits through a grueling interview process that makes the Socratic method look fun and breezy.

"What Took You So Long?" Winner: Harvard Law School, which granted tenure to its first-ever Asian American female professor, Jeannie Suk.

"Lamest Excuse" Winner: The Economist, for using women's responsiblities on the home front to explain away the dearth of women on corporate boards.

"Model Ethics" Winner: State of Texas, which voted down an amendment that would have prohibited sexual relations between a lawyer and her client. Hey, where's the conflict? Aren't you and your client on the same team anyway?


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Do you have topics you'd like to discuss or tips to share? E-mail The Careerist's chief blogger, Vivia Chen, at VChen@alm.com.


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About The Careerist

The Careerist takes an inside look at how lawyers shape their careers and manage their lives. The blog aims to dissect developments in the profession, provide useful information and advice, and give lawyers a platform to voice their views. The goal is to provide a fresh, provocative take on the state of lawyering.

About Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen, The Careerist's chief blogger, has been covering the business and culture of law firms for a decade. A former corporate lawyer, Chen is fascinated by those who thrive (as well as those who don't) in the legal profession. Her take: Success in the law (and life) doesn't always travel a linear path. If you have topics you'd like to discuss or information to share, contact her: VChen@alm.com

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